Champaign-Urbana favorite Curtis Orchard is a staple during the fall season
Kids activities, delicious treats, kittens galore, pumpkins, apples, corn mazes and more — the list goes on and on when it comes to why we love the orchard
What may be one of Champaign-Urbana’s most well-known family attractions, Curtis Orchard is a little country escape just outside the heart of Champaign-Urbana. The live animals, delicious food and kid-friendly attractions may be the perfect mix of everything you’re looking for in a fall family outing. Here are 10 things you want to know before you head out to the orchard this year, which opens July 20 and stays open through Dec. 23.
- There’s no admission fee.
You don’t have to pay a fee to enjoy much of the orchard. Show up and pop into the store for donuts, go peruse the pumpkin patch or just chase some kittens and call it a day. This definitely fits the description of budget-friendly if you pass on some of the attractions that cost a fee.
- Weekdays — particularly weekday afternoons — are the quietest time to visit the orchard.
Weekdays in general will be much quieter than weekends all fall long. Some of the attractions aren’t running on weekdays (like pony rides) and there are things like live music and such on the weekends that add to the festive atmosphere. But if the goal is to have a quiet family outing or a playdate meet-up with another family, you’ll want to pick a weekday. When littles have to go home for naptime, the orchard gets particularly quiet in the early afternoon.
- Apple picking: here’s the scoop.
The way that apple picking works is that each person (over 36 inches tall) pays a fee to go into the apple picking area, receiving a bag to fill. So if you take a family of five, for example, you’re going to leave with a whole lot of apples when you’re done! You can always grab a bag of freshly picked apples from the shelves of the store.
- Yes, there’s a pumpkin patch. But many other produce finds are available for purchase, too.
If you’re looking for gourds, decorative corn, summer squash to eat, or many other items you can find them at the orchard.
- The kittens are completely adorable and, yes, you can pick them up.
If you love animals, you’re going to love Curtis Orchard. The kittens running everywhere are very friendly and used to guests picking them up, so go for it. However, check the bottom part of your stroller before leaving because they’ve been known to hop in there and stowaway until later. All kittens are micro-chipped and it is very important they STAY at the orchard when you leave.
- Paid activities: what’s the scoop?
If you are going to partake in the kid activities, again, weekdays are a great option. Get a play-all-day wristband for a great savings over what you’d pay on the weekend. Because info on what is open and current prices can change from season to season, we recommend you check the Curtis Orchard website to plan for your visit.
- Plan to eat at the Flying Monkey cafe (or one of the outdoor vendors during the weekends) as you can’t bring in your own food.
Since food is for sale, it’s understood that one of the rules is you can’t bring in your own food. The Flying Monkey Cafe opens Aug. 27 and is open through Halloween. If you’re looking for a park to have a picnic at afterwards, find our list here of all the best places for a picnic.
- Have a birthday party or a field trip.
Group outings are a blast at Curtis Orchard! Host your child’s fall birthday party here or organize that homeschool co-op field trip. Looking for something a little more spontaneous? Just plan a parent meet-up and let the kids play and roam while parents visit. This is a popular spot for that.
- Get your holiday pies here.
Yes, the donuts rock, and the baked goods in general are pretty spectacular. Get on the list for holiday pie orders and order your Thanksgiving or Christmas pies at Curtis Orchard. You can get them already baked or frozen to bake at home. We think your family will be asking for one every year after you do this once! And it’s one less thing to prep.
- Pack a quarter … or five.
No, this isn’t Aldi. But your kids are going to want to feed the goats and if you come prepared with a few quarters, that activity in and of itself can be the only thing you pay for your whole visit, if you wish.
Find everything related to fall in Champaign-Urbana:
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- 21 Things to Do in the Fall on a Budget in Champaign-Urbana
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- Apples, Pumpkins and Corn Mazes in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
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